Stay in education as long as you can – the future is bleak
Don’t grow up, it’s a trap
Isobel Cockerell, Week 1: Desolation
I am not especially looking forward to leaving university. As an MPhil student, I’ve already prolonged this inevitability as far as it can go – short of being a fully fledged academic, hair shirt, stuttering stammer and all – and the game is finally up.
Its time for a plan, and I don’t have one. So I thought I’d better look at my – and my similarly disgustingly privileged contemporaries’ – options.
Option 1: Get married shortly after graduating. Maybe in King’s chapel like Zadie Smith did. Because young people are better at being in love than people in their mid-thirties. I’ll still look glowing in a wedding dress instead of the haggard/past it/mutton/meringue-like abomination that society brands any bride over the age of 28.
The trouble is, what happens when I get bored of spending my first flush of youth having ‘nights in with my hubby’ drinking Chablis and watching Netflix boxsets in a little one-up-one-down in Clapham?
I would come to detest going for evening Crossfit classes and having my ‘better half’ cook a Waitrose poussin for me every night. (That’s a baby chicken, by the way, and they’re all the rage with young couples who are by nature simultaneously aspirational, murderous, and enjoy sharing tiny game-like birds between them because guess what, married people in their twenties have tumbleweed for friends).
Urgh, and all those intimate warm pints and ‘house burgers’ in twee little London pub gardens on ‘date night’. Spare me.
Option 2: I could work for a tech start up in Shoreditch and rent an obscenely expensive flat in nearby Dalston. I’ll be paid close to nothing but be richly reimbursed in cocaine and boozy lunches by my 24-year-old boss.
London is awash with young people like this, who can’t pay their rent but have insider knowledge of all the best restaurants in Soho, ones that have chrome ‘shelving’ in the loos.
I’ll work in an office with actual kid’s slides and be employed to update Twitter eight times an hour for less than the photocopier guy earns – despite my thirty grand degree.
Before I know it I’ll have reached my mid thirties, my septum will be eroding and my trendy boyfriend’s designer stubble will be starting to go grey.
Where I was once heroin-chic, I’m now just crabby looking and deeply dispassionate about everything. My only release will be going to Burning Man every September, where I’ll wear culturally appropriative headdresses and have really self-conscious orgies in the ‘deep playa’.
Option 3: I might as well sell my soul to the corporate devil. This option has all the cocaine but none of the (pseudo) fun of Option 2. I’ll enrol on a KPMG or JP Morgan grad scheme. I’ll begin waking up at six every morning and won’t stop until I’m 60 and my heart gives out. I’ll spend my half-hour lunchbreaks napping in the disabled loo with loo roll for a pillow or sobbing quietly into my EAT crayfish salad at my desk (being careful not to let my boss see me cry because I’m a woman and he’ll respect me even less than he already does).
The rest of my time will be spent crunching numbers. I’ll have a quarter-life crisis during which I’ll consider quitting and starting my own cupcake business. But by this time I’m already a greedy, monstrous product of capitalism, and my six figure salary has me in its vice-like clutches. So I’ll just plough on through to my fully-fledged mid-life crisis when shit will really hit the existential fan.
Option 4: I could always become a gap life tragedy, and go to Costa Rica to do a surfing and yoga course. I’ll get really into my chakras, become a vegan, and realise that all I really want to do is just live and be self-sufficient and at one with the earth. So then I’ll move into a commune of ‘really in touch’ white people ‘from all over the world’ – ie, the UK and Australia – who’ve stolen the land from indigenous farmers by paying twice the going rate for it using their parents’ trust funds.
We’ll live naked together, quite harmoniously, until I work out that doing absolutely fuck all except ‘healing’ myself from my past materialistic life using ‘plant medicine’ is actually mind-numbingly dull. One day, while out surfing, I’ll get stung by a box jellyfish and go up to heaven and God will say to me, ‘mate, what the fuck are you doing, festering your life away?’ and I’ll see that the word of God is true and good.
I’ll go back down to Earth to live out my days being a Mormon missionary or Jehovah’s witness – whichever – spreading the good message and having the door slammed in my eager, enlightened little face.
Option 5: I can’t think of a fifth. Check back next week – I might have had a (spiritual) revelation. Or make suggestions in the comments below. Please, I beg of you. Help me. God help us all.